Welcome back to the Coming Out Happy Blog! We're so happy to feature a very special guest, Kelly Ann Winget!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, Kelly!
“I'm the founder and CEO of Alternative Wealth Partners. It's a private equity company based in Dallas, Texas. As far as I'm concerned, I think that I'm the only millennial, openly gay, private equity professional around, which is a unique experience in the financial space. There's not a lot of women and there sure aren’t a lot of people that are openly gay in this field. So that's kind of my claim to fame here in the private equity space, but I've been in this world for about 15 years.
I started in oil and gas. I'm a fifth-generation oil and gas professional. I started in sales at 15, selling car washes in high school. I was making almost six figures, part-time, so I got my taste for money really early on, and I just never stopped. In 2020, I decided to launch my own firm, leaving the institutional and family office space. So far, we've raised close to $25 million across our different offerings that we use to invest in small business, American infrastructure, and commodities, which is what I like to invest in.”
That is incredible. How do you go about deciding who to invest in? When you go about investing in people, what really matters to you, like, what's the most important thing?
“The easiest way to describe what I do is Shark Tank. Everybody's watched Shark Tank, and each potential client gets to do this on a small scale. I see a lot of companies, and it ranges from clothing companies to coffee companies to oil & gas. I look at deals all day long. The differences between how we structure our deals and how we fund people is based on the management team.
If you can find a really good founder or management team, it doesn't matter what product they're making or selling. They can do anything, and that's the type of person that I want to put money behind. Anyone can have a good idea, but it's about finding and motivating the right person to really make a higher return. You can see that across all of our portfolio companies.
One of the biggest companies that are in the headlines now is Dapper Boi, who was featured by you recently, too. They got a “No” from Shark Tank, but a “Yes” from us. It's been a really cool thing to be a part of, because I've actually known about them for a long time. It was a cool opportunity to be introduced to them directly and be able to participate this way.”
One of the cool things, too, is seeing LGBTQ+ founders thrive and grow. How has that been for you?
“Being gay in finance is an interesting kind of line to teeter across because you're working with a lot of different types of investors. In my career, I wasn't very comfortable being openly gay. It wasn't until about five years ago where I was in spaces that were more comfortable, but I never said what sex my partner was.
Now, I get to be very open to that. I don't really care what people think anymore. It was difficult in my past to have that be a part of my identity, and it's cool now, but this has literally happened in the last three years where you can see more openly queer people in finance and founders and starting companies and standing behind that part of their identity.
It shouldn't necessarily keep us from getting capital, but it does, because all the rich people are old white men. For the most part, that's changing. We have this really large wealth transfer that's happening over the next around seven years, where you have $27 trillion moving from the Boomers to Gen X and millennial women, and that group of people are going to be the ones that shift the economy over the next five to seven years.”
If someone were trying to understand a little bit more about investments, how would you explain or describe alternative investments and even the reasoning behind the name?
“Alternative investments are everything outside of your traditional asset classes. Which are your stocks, your bonds and cash. Everything else is an alternative to your cryptocurrency or your real estate investing. Even insurance products are considered alternative investments. So anything you're doing outside of the public markets is considered alternatives, and there are sometimes alternative index funds that invest in alternative companies.
The reality is that an alternative investment is not involved in the public space at all. I've been exclusively in alternatives for the entirety of my career. That's just a personal preference of mine because I think that the public markets are manipulated by, you know, the big firms. As a small shareholder, especially if you're talking about somebody that might have maybe even $100 worth of extra money to invest, you're going to have to just put it there and wait and see.
Warren Buffett's strategy is just to invest in something until the end of time. You can obviously be successful if you're 100 years old and you've invested for 100 years, but moving forward, people need to have access, they need to grow their wealth much quicker than the market will ever be able to. It's an opportunity for people to start learning about alternatives.
There hasn't really been a lot of accessible information about alts forever because there's a big gap between the barrier of entry needed to be an accredited investor – accredited investor being somebody that has a million dollar net worth or makes over $200,000 a year. This makes it very difficult for a lot of people to access the alternative space. You can start in certain asset classes, like real estate, which doesn't necessarily have an income barrier. You can buy precious metals without having a qualifier. Obviously you can buy cryptocurrency without an income qualifier. So there are assets that you can get involved in without being a millionaire.
One thing that COVID taught us is that anybody can be a millionaire overnight. You have this brand new kind of windfall of wealth that's happening, specifically for women. With Only Fans, with TikTok, there's a lot of opportunity for people to just make merch and then start selling. I think that's kind of what the financial advisory and wealth managers of the world aren't understanding: wealth is no longer just, ‘I've been in my career for 40 years, and I've saved and I've invested in stocks or I started a successful business years ago.’ It's, ‘I decided to wake up one day and make chili honey and sell it on the internet, and now I'm a millionaire.’ I think that the shift for the financial professionals needs to happen so that everybody can now have access to diversified portfolios when it comes to generating wealth for themselves outside of how they're producing income for them.”
You have so much valuable information, and I want to read your book, Pitch The Bitch: Grab Your Financial Future By The Bags, to be able to find more information, but what are other ways that people can find you or resources for people to learn about these different kinds of investments and how they can start growing and learning and becoming financially smarter?
“I do talk about the different types of information sources out there in my book, and it's not necessarily like what you should be investing in or your step one, step two, step three. It's really about changing your mentality when it comes to wealth creation, and it's okay that you don't know this information. It's on purpose. Here's where you can start looking at this information and start taking control of your financial future by just educating yourself and accepting that, ‘I don't know this, but I should know this and I can know this.’ There isn't anything that is above anybody's head.
All of this information is accessible. It's hidden behind things and the book kind of walks through how you push away the nonsense to find the actual tangible knowledge and people that you should be following that you may or may not know about.”
A lot of the time, you don't know who to trust in this space, and I think it really, at least when I'm looking for support, I'm looking for someone to connect with or someone to learn from. I'm looking at whether they share a similar experience or they get me in some way. So for specifically queer adults, why is it important to have financial literacy?
“We deal with a lot of different hurdles than our heterosexual counterparts. One of the biggest things that I feel for people is that, you know, we have split within Texas, right? It's constantly at the top of my mind and my fiancee's mind: Are we prepared to run away? And what does that entail? Not everybody has that privilege to just like, pack up their lives like move somewhere more friendly, and I think that really puts a big burden on us as queer individuals. It's like the necessity to be secure enough to be safe. I don't think that most professionals in the financial space understand that fear or when it comes to financial planning.
Unfortunately, there just isn't a lot of representation for us in financial services. I mean, only I think, like 16, maybe 20% of all financial professionals are women or a minority. So take that group and then an even smaller percent of that is gay, if they're even open about it. The important thing is that there are resources to find professionals that want to be around other queer individuals. And there's commerce groups, associations, things like that.
Here in Dallas, we're actually having an event called Unleashed LGBTQ. It's in September. If you're queer and you want to come to Texas and see what we're all about, we have one of the best gay neighborhoods in town! We're throwing a large event to have networking and education, opportunities about money and entertainment. I'm going to be doing an entire workshop on how to start putting together financial plans.
As a queer person, there's definitely resources out there. We're getting to be more comfortable being out. It's really important for people to take that into consideration when estate planning as a queer person because we have a lot of different goals. When it comes to our money, we don't necessarily always want to have kids. If we do have children, it's a huge choice and, obviously, financial burdens are expensive.
My head of investor relations is actually a queer individual whose wife went through in vitro. It’s very expensive. These are things that you have to plan for that a lot of people don't, and I don't think that’s always taken into consideration when we're building out our plan.”
To have the resources is everything, and we’re just so thankful that you exist and that everything that you've provided is something that people can really use. It's accessible and it's not gatekeeping. We all win in some way, seeing that representation. I mean, I know for us as entrepreneurs, right, looking at these different people that have been successful, sometimes there's only a handful. When we all can rise together and support each other, it just makes the world a better place. We're on each other's team.
So what is the number one thing that you really want our listeners to take away from everything that we chatted about today and just anything that you have that's coming to you at the moment?
“Well, if you're a business owner, my piece of advice is just to fail fast and be aggressive about it. You know, something's not working out, just move forward, but also wave your flag because we're out here, and I think that it's becoming a safer space for us to be more open about where we are as leaders. There's a lot of private equity money out there that wants to support diverse founders. If you're interested in that, obviously, you can reach out to me directly, and I'll point you in the right direction. Again, I don't ever want people to feel like they're being kept from anything. I personally cannot work with non-accredited investors, so you do have to have that million dollar net worth or a $200,000 income, but it doesn't mean that I can't give you the information. You just can't invest with me now, but it doesn't mean you can’t invest with me tomorrow. I want you to have the information so you can go in the right direction.”
Where can they get Pitch The Bitch: Grab Your Financial Future By The Bags?
“You can get it directly on my website, which is KellyAnnWinget.com/the-book, and I think it's on Amazon as well. We're working on an audio book. That'll come out at some point. After I get married, I'm sure. I think you get it at Barnes and Noble and stuff, too, but the easiest way to get it is to just order from the website because it comes directly from the printer.”
Where can people find you?
“@KellyAnnWinget is my social media handle. If you want more insight on money find me on LinkedIn. I post a lot on LinkedIn. I write articles on LinkedIn.
I contribute to a bunch of different media outlets when it comes to alternatives, but as far as social media and personal stuff, you can find me on Instagram and TikTok.”
Dani & Keely
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